BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana lawmakers gave final passage Tuesday to a proposal requiring doctors to suggest to women taking the abortion pill that the drug-induced effort to terminate a pregnancy could be stopped midway through the process, a scientifically questionable claim.
With a 69-25 vote, the House agreed to a heavy Senate rewrite of the proposal and sent it to the governor's desk. Passage came over objections from opponents who said the legislation pushed by anti-abortion organizations could provide inaccurate, possibly dangerous information to women.
The bill by Republican Rep. Beryl Amedee, of Houma, is the latest in a long string of anti-abortion measures passed by Louisiana lawmakers seeking to lessen access to the procedure and to try to discourage women from seeking it.
The nonsurgical medication abortion, which works during the first nine weeks of pregnancy, involves swallowing mifepristone, which causes an embryo to detach from the uterine wall. A second pill, misoprostol, is used two days later to cause contractions and push the embryo out of the uterus.
Amedee’s legislation would require a doctor dispensing the two pills to provide a statement to the woman seeking the drug-induced abortion.
The statement says: “Research has indicated that the first pill provided, identified as mifepristone, is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. If after taking the first pill you regret your decision, please consult a physician or healthcare provider immediately to determine if there are options available to assist you in continuing your pregnancy.”
The Senate backed the bill in a 31-7 vote Monday. While nearly all opposition to the measure came from Democrats, they didn't vote as a bloc. Several Democrats also voted with Republicans for the proposal. The legislation heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who opposes abortion and regularly signs anti-abortion measures into law.
Several Republican-led states have passed similar laws, though some of those laws are tied up in litigation.
Supporters of the bill said they were trying to give women who change their mind the possibility of reversing course on an abortion.
“Chemical abortion takes the life of a human being. We should provide information that could save the life of a child,” Amedee said during a committee debate on the proposal.
But opponents pointed to medical groups that say science does not support suggestions that a drug-induced abortion can be reversed or stopped after the first pill is taken, and they argued interrupting the two-pill process could harm a woman's health.
“This bill is predicated on misinformation,” said Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat, during Senate debate. “We need to make decisions not based on emotion, but based on medicine when we’re dealing with medical issues.”
Amedee and other bill supporters claimed that if a woman takes the first pill and reconsiders her decision to end the pregnancy, she could seek to use the hormone progesterone to try to “reverse” the abortion. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says such claims about abortion reversal treatments “are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards.”
Sen. Beth Mizell, the Franklinton Republican who handled the legislation in the Senate, noted senators watered down the language to no longer make direct claims that women could “avoid, cease or reverse” the drug-induced abortion if they don't take the second pill.
“We are asking a woman to consult her physician. We're not saying don't take the medicine,” Mizell said.
The bill is filed as House Bill 578.
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